We may be 95 days into the new year but it’s not too late for resolutions. Make this the year you let go of your limiting beliefs! If dreams can lift you into happiness, limiting beliefs are the chains that bind you, and hold you back. The beauty is that you can work on them, if you know how.
A limiting belief is a thought, or state of mind, that you think is the absolute truth, which stops you from doing certain things. These beliefs don’t always have to be about yourself either. They could be about how the world works, ideas, or even how you interact with people. Generally, we hold onto limiting beliefs for the same reasons—to protect ourselves from struggle and failure. Also, we often hold onto limiting beliefs because they make us feel special, self-righteous or that we deserve special attention. “It’s not fair that I can’t change careers because I’m too old,” or “I’m not educated enough,” or “I just wasn’t raised that way.” With this week’s post we’re going to LET GO of those beliefs that hold us back and embrace all that life has for us.
Your limiting beliefs are constantly at work, shaping how you see things, think about things, feel about things, and shaping how you do things. They hide in shadows, so you don’t always see them. They’re so habitual, they’re just baked into your basic thought patterns. I once had an ex who felt (and said) that nothing was ever good enough. It was HIS limiting belief that he wasn’t good enough that was the ultimate demise of the relationship. Psychologists believe that most of our patterns of behavior, our beliefs, and our habits are formed by the age of seven. These beliefs are molded by the significant people in our life, especially our mother and father.
When we encounter obstacles in life, it’s usually because our habits of behavior are being challenged. They limit you and you don’t even know it. It’s happening subconsciously. Your limiting beliefs are there to try to protect you. They might have served you in some specific situation, or developed during childhood, but they aren’t serving you now. Chances are, if you’re struggling in various aspects of your life and can’t figure out why, limiting beliefs are doing their job… they’re limiting you. How ironic.
But why are limiting beliefs such a big deal? Well, who wants to live in a limited world? I want a world of possibility. And in reality, it’s more than that. If you limit other people, how will you ever cut yourself some slack? This is also projection in action. We see in others what we see in ourselves, and we often treat others how we treat ourselves. If you don’t show yourself compassion, how compassionate are you with others?
I’m going to give you a simple, 3-Step approach for hacking your limiting beliefs:
Step 1: NAME IT
That’s right, give your limiting belief a name. Nothing fancy, just something like “I’m not an artist,” or “I’m no good,” but give it a name so you can recognize it and so you can work on it. To name it, you have to catch it. Remember, it hides in shadows, so pay attention to the words that come out of your mouth (“I can’t do that” or “that’s just not me”), how you react to opportunities or situations, and what thoughts are playing through your mind on repeat. Maybe you’re not someone who says them out loud, but you might still be thinking limiting thoughts. Pay attention to your feelings about things. Your feelings are good indicators of where you might struggle. If you have emotional reactions to something, maybe showing up in hostility or fear in some way, it’s possible some limiting beliefs are lurking just below the surface.
Step 2: DETACH IT
That limiting belief is not you. You are not your behavior or thought pattern. So, picture “Gollum,” or whatever this limiting belief is, and stick it someplace outside of you. If you catch yourself saying something like, “I’m not good,” change it to “I’m not good at that, yet.” Or, if you catch yourself saying something like, “I’m not an artist,” reframe it to, “I need to practice my drawing skills”. The idea is to put the focus on the behavior itself, and to stop limiting your identity or making it a mark against your character.
Step 3: REPLACE IT
That’s right. Replace your limiting belief with an empowering one. It’s easier to fill a void with something new, than to just stop doing something. Remind yourself that you are the creator of your beliefs. For new beliefs to take hold, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. At first, it might not fit or feel right. Use your imagination. Imagine how you would feel if it was true, and practice that feeling. Remember that your brain will be looking for evidence. Keep in mind that you perceive what you believe, so if you never believed it before, then you never could see it until now. This will take some practice as you grow your self-awareness. Your brain, now with your RAS (Reticular Activating System) in high gear, will be finding you examples to support the new thought patterns.
Remember that you are changing your thought habits, so it will take time and might not feel like a habit just yet. You’ll have to consciously and deliberately, with intent, focus on your new empowering belief. At first, it might feel like a “fake it till you make it” situation, and that’s okay. As long as you embrace your new belief and focus on acting and “feeling” as if it’s already true, you will break free from those old thought patterns in no time. If you have a limiting belief where you think or feel something along the lines of, “I’m not worth it,” then it’s time to decide you ARE worth it.
If this is going to be your best year ever, do this right now: Decide you are worth it!